WIRSPA welcomes new members and calls for festival restraint

The West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers' Association (WIRSPA), a grouping of Caribbean rum producers, welcomed several new members at its annual general meeting (AGM).

The association welcomed St. Vincent Distillers representing St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a full member, the Bahamas Distilling Company, representing the Bahamas, as an associate member and also welcomed Copal Tree Distillery of Belize, to the Belize Rum Producers Association.

Chairman Komal Samaroo said: “Our growth in membership is evidence of the increasing relevance of the association to the industry in the region. Producers see a clear advantage in being part of a grouping that shares common rules, a philosophy of quality and authentic provenance, and strength in numbers.”

The producers exchanged views on domestic and international trade and market developments, discussing the challenges raised by the rapidly increasing price of raw materials, energy and packaging.

CEO Vaughn Renwick said: “Major input costs including molasses and fuel have risen considerably, in some cases by more than 50%. Further increases seem set to continue, as post-Covid demand for molasses grows, exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine and a lack of shipping containers and vessels both for inputs and exports.”

As a result of covid restrictions relaxing and festivals returning in the region, the association also underlined the need for additional messaging to consumers on reducing harmful and excessive drinking.

Samaroo added: “We are pleased to see that virtually all rum producers have now upgraded product labels to carry our agreed advisory logos against underage drinking, drinking and driving and drinking during pregnancy.”